This document was downloaded and archived from   on May 28, 2001.

  Daily Briefing  

January 18, 1999

Clinton: Relate reinvention to real life

By Brian Friel

Reinventing government is "about as exciting as watching paint dry" to many reporters, President Clinton said last week at an international conference on reinventing government. So, government leaders should try to show how the hum-drum of reinvention has an impact on citizens' lives, Clinton said.

"One of the problems with having a continuous reinventing government effort is that it almost never gets any headlines in the newspaper," Clinton said in a speech to representatives of 40 nations gathered for the "Global Forum on Reinventing Government" at the State Department. "I think that means that if you're going to do this, you need sort of an extra dose of determination and good humor, because I believe it is truly one of the most important things that those of us in public life today can do."

The conference audience included Jenny Shipley, prime minister of New Zealand, and high-ranking officials from Russia, Japan, Argentina, Spain, Benin and other countries.

Clinton praised Gore for his commitment to reinventing government while admitting how hard it is to get most people to pay attention to the effort.

"Most people think it's so boring, we have to have a joke every three minutes when discussing it," Clinton said. Earlier, he had kidded Gore: "I'm sure you have seen he has absorbed about everything there is to absorb about this subject. And if you hang around long enough, he will give you a chance to know everything he knows about it."

Clinton said he is proud of how much improvement he has seen in the federal government since Gore's National Performance Review kicked off almost six years ago, but it has been hard to communicate the importance of the initiative to the public. Federal officials must explain how the accomplishments of reinvention, such as cutting the federal workforce and eliminating rules and regulations, have improved citizens' lives, Clinton said.

"If you say we've saved $138 billion that helped us balance the budget, bring interest rates down and lowered their mortgage rates, that's something people can understand," Clinton said. "If you can say to a small business person, it used to take weeks or months for us to process your request for a loan, and now it takes a matter of days; and the form was once an inch thick and now it's a page long, that means something to people, because it affects their lives."

Throughout the two-day conference, which was subtitled "Partnership for Economic Success," Gore contended that countries must have governments that are efficient and responsive to citizens if they want to have economic success in the global marketplace.

On Friday, Gore focused on the impact of information technology on the services government provides. He pointed to online services for college students and a highly respected toll-free telephone service run by the Social Security Administration as examples of how using information technology to reinvent government improves public service.

Comments about this site may be sent to the UNT Libraries
Government Documents Department.